In Eden’s Garden

*After God made the first man*, who He named Adam, He put Adam into a garden in a place away in the east, called Eden. In order that Adam live happily in this garden, God made trees spring from the ground. To make things extra nice for Adam, God made these trees pleasant to look at, and good for food. There was even a river running through the garden, so to provide water for the trees and other plants.

There was, however, a problem-tree in this garden. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God absolutely didn’t want Adam eating from. Just so Adam wouldn’t get ideas about eating from this tree when God wasn’t looking, God told Adam that if he ate from this tree he would certainly die.

Adam felt puzzled and hurt on hearing God say this. However, beneath God’s stern exterior beat a sometimes sympathetic heart, for God didn’t want Adam to feel absolutely alone – as alone as God, Himself had felt before creating the heaven and the earth. So God fashioned a partner for Adam.

God did this by putting Adam into a trance, and, while Adam was sleeping, took one of his ribs and closed the flesh over the place from where He’d taken the rib, so that Adam would be none the wiser on awakening. God then built up this rib and made it into a woman.

God brought her to Adam, who, knowing all along what God had been doing while he was asleep, said on seeing the woman: “This is now the bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Neither Adam nor the woman were wearing any clothes. However, neither felt shame when they saw that the other had no clothes.

In the Garden of Eden, there was, in addition to the trees and plants, a snake. The snake was of a crafty disposition, for, one day, when Adam and Eve (the name God gave the woman) were strolling in the garden, the snake slithered up to Eve and asked her, “Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat from any tree in the garden?”

Eve was startled, for she hadn’t expected a snake to be able to talk. Recovering her composure, she told the snake, “We may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except for the tree in the middle of the garden; God has forbidden us to eat or to touch the fruit of that; if we do, we shall die.”

“Of course you won’t die” said the snake, “God knows that as soon as you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods knowing both good and evil”. The snake instinctively knew that Eve, as a woman, and thus compulsively a Nosey-Parker, would not resist the temptation to eat from this tree.

As the snake knew she would, Eve took some fruit from the tree and ate it. So good did it taste, that she gave some to Adam, who ate it too. Both started feeling strange, for they became acutely conscious that they had no clothes on, and felt embarrassed. They stitched fig leaves together and made loincloths.

They heard footsteps in the garden. It was God who was taking a walk to enjoy the evening breeze. Adam and Eve hid among the trees. God knew they were somewhere near, for He called out, “Where are you?”

“I heard You in the garden” replied Adam. “I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

“Who told you that you were naked?” said God. “Have you eaten from the tree which I forbade you?”

Adam said, “The woman You gave me for a companion, she gave me the fruit from the tree and I ate it.”

God turned to Eve and said, “What is this you’ve done?”

Eve said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

God was furious. He told the snake that it was now accursed more than all cattle and all wild creatures. It would now have to slither on the ground for the rest of its life, and just eat dust.

Despite delivering Himself of this, God still hadn’t rid Himself of His fury. He told Eve that He would increase her labour and her groaning when she bore children. She would forever be subservient to her husband, Adam, her master.

God turned to Adam and said that because he had eaten from the tree that he had been expressly forbidden to eat from, any ground that he henceforth walked on would be accursed. Adam would have to toil by the sweat of his brow for anything he might eat, which would be mostly thorns and thistles, until the day he returned to the soil as dust.

God then cast out Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, the entrance to which a cherubim with a flashing sword would guard, to ensure that Adam and Eve didn’t sneak back.

Source: Genesis 2, 3

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6 Responses to In Eden’s Garden

  1. Transferred Comments says:

    jenny said…

    It is that same Nosey-Parker quality that prompted me to ask you where you are going with this.

    Can’t be helped, evidently.

    The question “where are you?” is interesting, isn’t it?

    This is going to keep you busy for a while, Philippe. By the way, I am not a religious person, but I am very, very fond of these stories.
    5:46 PM, February 24, 2011

    Christopher said…

    I got the idea of this posting and the one before, from someone who, three or four years ago blogged the entire Bible in postings on Slate.com

    I thought, what a wonderful idea. So I’ve begun doing likewise, although I’ll just do it posting by posting, as my mood takes me. So far it’s been fun. If it stops being so, then I’ll just stop. So I don’t have a goal, and don’t know where I’ll go.

    Although religion was part of my upbringing, and involved much (mostly enforced) church-going, and (mostly enforced) reading from the (Christian) Bible, I’ve never read it right the way through. So blogging now gives me the opportunity to do this. By re-acquainting myself with the Bible, I’m sort of re-acquainting myself with my childhood.

    Incidentally, one of my sources for this posting and the last one is a Bible (a King James one) that I was given when nine, and which I grow more and more sentimentally attached to as I get older, and my links to the past fray.

    I don’t know how much the stories I’ve recounted in the last two postings accord with what is in the Hebrew Bible, for I took them from the Old Testament in the Christian Bible, which, being in English, may make the Old Testamant somewhat different from the Hebrew language Hebrew Bible. But I don’t know this.

    I, like you, am not religious (are you spiritual instead?). For the non-religious, the value of reading the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, is that they, along with Shakespeare’s plays, are a foundation of English-speaking culture (as you’ll know, the English language is riddled with words and phrases from the Bible and Shakespeare).

    Hence, to the extent that one is unfamiliar with the Old (Hebrew Bible) and New Testaments of the Christian Bible, one is culturally deprived if of the English-speaking culture.
    6:55 PM, February 24, 2011

    Man of Roma said…

    King’s James version and Shakespeare. Written more or less in the same period, hope not to be wrong. Such a great moment for the English prose and poetry, and foundational, as you remind us.

    When I read the Bible in English, I cannot but use that version.

    I’ll follow your interesting Bible whenever I can being stuck in Ancient Britain’s marshes (as I learn from the geography of a certain place lol).
    6:37 AM, February 25, 2011

    jenny said…

    I’m no expert on the Torah either, Philippe, but I will use your posts as an opportunity to think about the differences between it and the Old Testament.

    Yep, I agree that if you don’t know this stuff, you’re out of the loop culturally.

    I never know what people mean when they talk about being spiritual, so, probably, I’m not.

    Still, I think that a book given to you at age nine may have magical powers. 🙂
    7:20 AM, February 25, 2011

    Richard said…

    Do you remember the quaint observation that 46 words into the King James Version of Psalm 46 is the word ‘shake’, 46 words from the end is the word ‘spear’. Shakespeare was 46 in 1610 and the completed translation was presented to the King in 1611.

    God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
    2:12 PM, February 25, 2011

    Richard said…

    btw – 400th anniversary of the KJV this year.
    2:19 PM, February 25, 2011

    Christopher said…

    @Giovanni – ….I’ll follow your interesting Bible whevever…..”,

    If you follow, it will come.

    @Jenny – “…..I never know what people mean when they talk about being spiritual, so, probably, I’m not……”

    If you say “ommmmm” a lot, and wear flowers in your hair, you just could be.

    @Richard – Incredible coincidences. Or are they? There are more things in heaven and earth………
    7:59 PM, February 25, 2011

    Richard said…

    I think the tree was responsible. God realised this and had it the snake on his conscience. Some while later, when God took the form of a man, he cursed a fig tree and it withered away. [See Matthew 21 and Mark 11]
    5:04 AM, February 26, 2011

    jenny said…

    Christopher–great choice for musical accompaniment! Get me my flowers.

    Richard–that is a terrific story. Surely a subtle tribute made by the translator!
    5:14 AM, February 26, 2011

  2. jenny says:

    I read this yesterday and thought it was in the spirit of your blog. I like it.

    History
    Jennifer Michael Hecht

    Even Eve, the only soul in all of time
    to never have to wait for love,
    must have leaned some sleepless nights
    alone against the garden wall
    and wailed, cold, stupified, and wild
    and wished to trade-in all of Eden
    to have but been a child.

    In fact, I gather that is why she leapt and fell from grace,
    that she might have a story of herself to tell
    in some other place.

  3. Philippe says:

    God could have implanted memories of a fictitious past into Eve’s mind. He could have done the same with Adam’s mind.

    Come to think of it, aren’t our childhood memories like images reflected from tiny shards of glass of a shattered mirror? So that these tiny reflected images in whole, give us a distorted image of our childhood, and therefore an almost fictitious memory of our childhood?

    We with our almost fictitious memories of childhood. Eve and Adam with their wholly fictitious ones. What’s the difference really?

  4. dafna says:

    philippe,

    that response is something like the middlemarch quote that i left on richard’s blog.

  5. jenny says:

    The difference, Philippe, is that Adam and Eve had no King James Bible, given to them at age nine. 🙂

  6. Philippe says:

    @Dafna – It’s nice to know that George Eliot and I think alike.

    @Jenny – Adam and Eve were all the poorer.

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